Community Masks: An Effective Tool In Breaking the Chain of Infection
Since the coronavirus pandemic began, face masks have become part of our everyday lives. Many experts recommend wearing masks in public spaces to halt the spread of the virus. For civilians, however, this does not necessarily mean you need a medical-grade face mask. Fabric community masks, often more comfortable, are also sufficient. We offer masks in a number of different designs in our online shop.
Community mask: sensible daily protection
Community masks (also called everyday masks, face masks, DIY face coverings) are tailored fabric face masks that are washable and reusable. They are usually made out of several layers of cotton fabric. They are designed to retain fine droplets of saliva and aerosols the wearer releases when talking, coughing or sneezing. These droplets serve as vehicles for pathogens like the coronavirus and can endanger other people. Fabric masks primarily protect others. Since they are not completely impermeable, they offer only insufficient protection against infection to the wearer themselves. However, if large numbers of people regularly wear masks, this can reduce the spread of viruses and bacteria.
Community masks are intended for use by private citizens. They are not medical products and are therefore not subject to any legal standards or inspections.
Where should community masks be worn?
The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) recommends wearing a mask any time you’re in a public space where it may not be possible to comply with the 1.5-metre social distancing requirements, for example
- at work
- on public transport
- when shopping
- at schools and nurseries
- when attending a doctor’s appointment
- in restaurants
- when visiting a hair salon
Depending on the state, it may even be legally required for people to wear masks in certain places. Face masks are particularly important when indoors.
Community masks or medical-grade face masks: What’s the difference?
Community or everyday masks are not medical products and are therefore not subject to certification by an independent testing authority. This is not the case with medical-grade protective masks. Depending on their design, these masks may be classified as either a medical product (surgical mask) or personal protective equipment (FFP protective masks) and must meet the legal standards accordingly. Certified, quality controlled medical-grade protective masks are also available for purchase in our online shop.
Buying community masks: what to look out for
Although fabric masks do not meet any legal standards, there are significant differences in quality available. Here’s how to spot a good product:
Many fabric masks are made of 100% cotton fabric because it is skin-friendly, breathable and washable. Soft non-woven fabrics made of synthetic fibres like polyamide or polypropylene are also suitable, as long as they can be washed at at least 60° Celsius.
Densely woven, strong fabric
Thicker, tightly woven textiles are more suitable than thinner fabrics, which tend to let more particles through. However, materials that are too stiff do not adapt well to the shape of the face and therefore allow more air to pass through at the sides.
Even though it can make breathing a little more work, at least subjectively speaking, two or three layers of fabric offer better protection than a thin, single-layer mask.
Face masks should fit snugly on the face at the edges to let out as little air as possible through the sides. Some masks feature a wire clip over the bridge of the nose so wearers can adjust the fit more snugly to their own nose.
Stretchy rubber straps have proven the best option for affixing face masks behind the ears or around the back of the head. The straps should never dig into the skin, but should fit snugly enough that the mask doesn’t shift.
Washable at at least 60° Celsius
Fabric masks should be washable at at least 60° Celsius, preferably 95° Celsius. Only by washing masks at these temperatures can pathogens reliably be killed.
What to bear in mind when wearing a face mask
Fabric masks only do their job when wearers follow necessary hygiene measures. The following are particularly important:
- Tight fit: the mask should cover the nose and mouth and the edges of the mask should fit as snugly as possible against the skin.
- Only touch with clean hands: face masks should be put on with clean hands. Do not touch the fabric part of the mask while out and about or when taking it off without washing your hands first.
- Switch out a damp mask for a dry one: a fabric mask moistened by the air we breathe can become a breeding ground for germs and should therefore be changed out for a fresh one immediately. We recommend that wearers keep multiple masks available if they will need to wear a mask for a longer period of time (e.g. at work).
- Wash your hands after taking off your mask: wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 30 seconds after taking off your mask.
- Clean regularly: fabric masks should be washed in a washing machine several times a week at at least 60° Celsius, preferably 95° Celsius. Check the manufacturer’s label for the correct temperature. After washing, they should be fully dried. Fabric masks can also be ironed after washing, which also kills pathogens.
Buy high-quality fabric community masks online
Fabric masks only offer effective protection against coronavirus if as many people as possible use them. A wide selection of community masks for everyday use is available in our online shop. You can also buy products that meet the necessary criteria for medical products or personal protective equipment (PPE).
Want to keep up to date on how to protect yourself and others? Subscribe to our newsletter to receive valuable information straight to your inbox.